Weddings in the Philippines are usually held at the local Catholic church in towns or cities or the barrio chapel in villages after the couple receives a wedding license from the local town hall and consults with the local parish priest. Elopement and only town hall civil ceremonies are rare. On her wedding day, the bride and her family lead a procession to the church. The bride and groom are married in a Catholic ceremony and mass, presided over by a priest. The bride’s father gives the bride away and the bride and groom are sponsored by their godfather and godmother. After the ceremony is over all the participants, including the priest, gather for photographs.

Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “The marriage ceremony is usually preceded by an engagement. For the rich and middle class, betrothal is marked with elaborate parties. On the other hand, the low-income class concludes the occasion with a firm handshake and/or a sip of a local wine or homemade ferment. The engagement and wedding are usually a happy, festive occasion. However, if questions of family honor and shame arise, the outcome may be violent and deadly, as happened at the time of this writing, when a male’s family massacred the bride-to-be’s family because she slept with another man two days before the wedding. The community accepted the outcome as a proper punishment for the betrayal and unbearable shame caused to the bridegroom’s family. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality, 2001 |~|]

Filipino religious wedding ceremonies are similar to those in the United States with the addition of sponsors. Principal sponsors are friends and relatives who have positions of influence in the community. The number of principal sponsors attests to the popularity and potential success of a couple. It also reduces a couple's expenses, since each principal sponsor is expected to contribute a substantial amount of cash. Members of the wedding party are secondary sponsors who do not have to provide funds. [Source: /=/]

In early Filipino custom, the groom-to-be threw his spear at the front steps of his intended’s home, a sign that she has been spoken for. These days, a ring suffices as the symbol of engagement. After the couple has decided to marry, the first order of business is the pamanhikan, where the groom and his parents visit the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. Wedding plans are often made at this time, including a discussion of the budget and guest list. Don’t be surprised if the groom-to-be is expected to run some errands or help out around the bride’s house. This tradition is called paninilbihan, where the suitor renders service to his future wife’s family to gain their approval. [Source: Shu Shu Costa,]

In the West, it is the often bride's family who shoulders the wedding expenses. In the Philippines, it is has traditionally been the groom and/or his family who takes on the expenses of the entire wedding. But as Filipino weddings have slowly evolved into bigger social events, this practice is no longer strictly followed. The wedding expenses are usually divided between the two families. The gesture should come from the bride's family, however. If the bride's family is willing to shoulder some or half of the wedding expenses, the time to make this gesture should be at the pamanhikan dinner. [Source: ^]

If a couple doesn’t have the resources for a church wedding they can opt for a civil ceremony. The requirements for a civil wedding are: 1) Secure your parental consent/parental advice and marriage license. 2) Set the wedding date and an appointment with a judge, rabbi or the authority who will solemnize your marriage. 3) The marriage should be solemnized publicly in the judge's chambers, in an open court, in the office of the consul-general, consul or vice-consul. There is no required program or text for civil weddings. What is important is that the parties accept each other as husband and wife. ^

On Filipino rural wedding, Salmagundi wrote in Unlike the urban-suburban wedding that is accomplished through the services of consultants, specialists and caterers, the rural wedding is a bayanihan event, a cooperative effort of kin, friends and neighbors, all too-ready and so-willing to lend a hand or provide moral support. It is a celebration that takes weeks of planning and days of communal hands-on preparation, the final days building up to a busy buzz of activity – the cooking of delicacies, the cutting of the bamboo, the building of the bilik and the arch, the slaughtering of pigs, the frenzy of cutting and chopping in the kitchen, the feast and the dance, the wedding and the reception. [Source: Salmagundi, /]

Pamamanhikan (Asking of Hand in Marriage)

Among Tagalogs, the prospective groom and his family visit the bride’s parents and make plans for the wedding in a process known as “pamamanhikan” (or “pamanhikan”) that involves setting the wedding date on an auspicious day in terms of astrology and what is considered lucky and unlucky, preferably then the moon is waxing rather than waning. Some Tagalog couples believe their fate lies in choosing the right day. The bride’s parents often host a big feast before the wedding. Its success is regarded as predictor as to whether the wedding and marriage will also be a success.

After a long courtship, if the couple later decide to get married, there is the Filipino tradition of pamamanhikan (from panik, to go up the stairs of the house), where the man and his parents visit the woman's family and ask for her parents blessings to marry their daughter. It is also an occasion for the parents of the woman to get to know the parents of the man. During pamamanhikan, the man and his parents bring some pasalubong (gifts). It is also at this time that the wedding date is formally set, and the couple become engaged to get married. [Source: Center for Southeast Asian Studies Northern Illinois University, ]

A well brought up Filipino suitor is expected to go to the father of the girl and formally, manfully, declare his honorable intentions and ask for her hand in marriage. That's just for a starter. Hewing to a native custom among the old principalia, Filipino families to this day carry on the practice of pamamanhikan, whereby the parents of the boy call on the parents of the girl to formally, and with ceremony, ask for her hand in marriage.
The courtliness of our Malay forebears seems particularly honed for the handling of delicate matters, as in forging of kinships. During the official call, the eldersuse metaphorical and indirect language; or once did. Whatever the language in current use, it is the form of the ritual that's still adhered to. [Source: Ira, L.B. 1990. Guidebook to the Filipino Wedding. Manila: Vera-Reyes, ^]

Parents embarked on the mission for their son, particularly if it is a first wedding in the family, have found themselves at a loss for the proper words, or the proper way to go about it, even if the ritual often is a mere formality. Confronted with this new parental role, usually self-assured middle-agers tend to lose their cool. "The children here seem to be planning something. I said, perhaps we ought to ask permission first, before anything."^

The prospective groom's father may use an ice-breaking line. Something like, "The children here seem to be planning something. I said, perhaps we ought to ask permission first, before anything." On his part the girl's father may put on a formal mien. He may, quite properly, hedge. (It would hardly be proper to look eager or happy.) Tradition assigns the young pair no role other than to look properly and obediently filial. ^

The procedure is rendered simpler if the two sets of parents already know one another (which, given that young people tend to orbit in certain circles, is often the case). If not, the old Filipino networking is resorted to: find a mutual friend or relative to help ease the first meeting, usually at her house, or a private function room of a club, a hotel, or restaurant. The milestone of passage from one social stage to another is marked with food and drink. ^

Making Arrangements for the Wedding (Pamumulong or Pagluluhod)

In rural areas at least, after the parents becomes aware of their daughter's desire to marry – that is, if they approve of the man – the prospective groom's family will be given notice of the date set for the "bulungan" – the traditional meeting of the two families, to discuss the nitty-gritty of the wedding. On a day designated by the girl's family, vehicles are borrowed and hired, jeepneys, vans or tricycles, to transport the retinue of relatives, friends and neighbors – thirty or more is not an unusual number. The party brings with them the food for that event, usually a noodle dish and soup, the necessary libations, lambanog or gin. and in the tradition of "Taob and Pamingalan," every item of silverware that will be used in the sharing of the small feast. [Source: Salmagundi, /]

Awaiting their arrival is a small crowd of the girl's relatives, family friends, and neighbors. On arriving, the man presents himself to the girl's parents, kneels and gets the "blessing" of the elders. Sometimes, the prospective groom presents a big bundle of chopped wood to the girl's parents, which he takes to the house's crawl space or someplace close to the entrance. In times past, this bundle of wood is kept stored and unused, as some remembrance; in more recent times, it's firewood, sooner than later. /

By tradition, the elders choose the date for the wedding. Certain dates are avoided; the waning of the moon or a Friday. Almost always, a Saturday is chosen. When the date is set and agreements and compromises made, the table is set for a simple meal to be shared by the families and friends. In the tradition of "taob ang pamingalan" – not a single piece of kitchen- and silverware of the girl's family is used. Instead, the meal will be served using utensils – dishes, silverware, cups, glasses, ladles – brought over by the prospective groom's family. However, there is the traditional "game" of someone from both sides families trying to "lift" or "steal" an item from each other, preferably a kitchen or silverware item. A gatang (a wooden measuring cup used to measure rice), kawot, siyansi or sipit are preferred trophy items of appropriation. The art is in accomplishing it without getting caught, which becomes much easier as the gin or lambanog fuels the gathering into easy conversations, familiarity, laughter and distraction. Days later, the items lost or missed are identified, but there is never any serious effort to recover them, but rather, amused incredulity as to who did it and when and how it was pulled off. /

Guidelines for Filipino Weddings

Reservations must be made as early as possible and no later than three months before the wedding. Offering: P17,000.00 (without airconditioning) or P22,500.00 (with airconditioning). The offering covers: 1) The wedding ceremony within the Holy Mass. 2) The registration forms, marriage certificate, use of the center aisle red carpet 3) Nuptial and unity candles and booklets (for the couple only). 4) Flowers at the center aisle and around the altar. Optional: 1) P 500.00 fee for electrical/photographic devices (battery chargers, video lights, photo/video equipment, etc.); 2) P1,000.00 fee for curtains for main entrance glass doors; 3) P3,000.00 fee for curtains for entire church's glass doors. [Source:]

Requirements1) A non-refundable deposit of P2,000.00; 2) Updated Baptismal Certificates of the couple (issued within six months before the wedding), with the specification ‘For Marriage Purposes Only’; 3) Marriage license. (You may get a marriage license from any city/municipality two months before the wedding. Note: a marriage license is only valid for 120 days from the date of issue); 4) Confirmation certificate (Kumpil); 5) Our Parish Office will give you the following forms: a) Banns and Permit forms for the bride. (The bride’s parish priest will be asked to give his permission for her to marry outside her parish. The Banns will be posted in her parish for three consecutive Sundays.); b) Banns form for the groom. (The Banns will be posted in his parish for three consecutive Sundays.); 6) The following must be submitted two weeks before the wedding date: a) Marriage License; b) Reply letters (Banns and Permit) from the respective parishes of the bride and groom; c) Confirmation Certificates; d) Full names of principal sponsors; e) Settlement of the wedding-fee balance. Failure to complete these requirements will mean the cancellation of the wedding date.

Appointments: Couples will be with other couples during these activities. The appointments are: 1) Canonical Interview; 2) Marriage Counseling; 3) Marriage Preparation Seminar; 4) Confession and Rehearsal (couple only). Regulations1) Failure to attend Marriage Counseling on the appointed date without informing the office ahead of time will result in the cancellation of the wedding date. 2) Only a nuptial booklet approved by the National Liturgical Commission may be used during the wedding. 3) A guest priest invited to solemnize the wedding must present his “celebret” (a document that guarantees his good standing in his Archdiocese) and photocopy of the certificate of renewal of registration, and authority to solemnize marriage). 4) Parish clearance is given only to individuals 21 years old and above. 5) The ceremony will start exactly on time. 6) Guest singers are recommended to bring along their own organist or instrumentalists. 7) Ring and coin bearers and flower girls should be at least five years old. 8) The mother of the bride will receive the marriage certificate, together with the nuptial/unity candles and booklet, right after the wedding. 9) Showering of flowers, rice, confetti, etc… is not allowed inside the church. However, this is allowed outside the church, at the church entrance. 10) Only the members of the entourage are encouraged to join the pictorial. 11) Church personnel and not the wedding coordinators are allowed to make the arrangements in the church. 12) Proper church decorum is strictly observed. Ladies (bride, mothers, bridal entourage, sponsors, guests, etc.) are expected to dress properly and decently. Ladies wearing dresses with plunging/revealing necklines or backless attires are not allowed to enter the church. To avoid any embarrassing situation, the bride and the groom should warn their entourage, sponsors, guests, etc. beforehand. 13) A P5,000.00 “punctuality” deposit is required. This is refundable on the condition that the wedding ceremony starts on the scheduled time. This means that: (a) the bridal entourage arrives earlier than the scheduled time for the wedding; and (b) the wedding ceremony starts on the scheduled time. The church clock at the church entrance determines the scheduled time.

Confirmation in the Philippines

In the Philippines, parishes require Catholic couples to be confirmed before getting married. The sacrament of confirmation is a sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. Parishes encourage Catholics who are about to get married to be confirmed first because this sacrament is said to "confer a character. By it the baptized continue their path of Christian initiation. They are enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and are more closely linked to the Church. They are made strong and more firmly obliged by word and deed to witness to Christ and to spread and defend the faith." (Canon 879). [Source: ^]

In any Roman Catholic church, you have to recieve the previous sacraments before recieving Confirmation, these include Baptism, Reconciliation (confession), and First Holy Communion. For children, this is often spread out over a decade or two, but often when people convert as adults the rites will be performed as one. One must have a certificate of baptism first, and at age ten , he must have his First Confession followed by First Communion. These are done in the Roman Catholic church. The deadline for registration is one month before the Confirmation date.

Confirmation Requirements: 1) Candidates must be twelve (12) years old and above. 2) Candidates must attend all the required seminars. 3) A copy of recent baptismal certificate for confirmation purposes. Required Seminars: 1) Parents’ Recollection & Meeting for Confirmandi (scheduled three weeks before Confirmation). 2) First Seminar of Confirmandi (three weeks before Confirmation). 3) Second Seminar of Confirmandi (two weeks before Confirmation). 4) Godparents’ Seminar & Practice (two weeks before Confirmation). 5) Second Rehearsal (a week before Confirmation). 6) General Rehearsal of Confirmandi & Godparent (scheduled a day before Confirmation).

Canon 1065 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church states that "Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage, if this can be done without grave inconvenience." In the Philippines, parishes require Catholic couples to be confirmed before getting married. The sacrament of confirmation is a sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. Parishes encourage Catholics who are about to get married to be confirmed first because this sacrament is said to "confer a character. By it the baptized continue their path of Christian initiation. They are enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and are more closely linked to the Church. They are made strong and more firmly obliged by word and deed to witness to Christ and to spread and defend the faith." (Canon 879). [ ^]

Parental Consent for Marriage in the Philippines

Couples need their parents' blessings before getting married. The legal requirement states they can get parental consent or parental advice. In case both or either one of the couple is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, he or she is required to submit to the local civil registrar the consent of the father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge over you, in that order. The parental consent is written in form and the parents or guardian should appear personally before the civil registrar. The consent could also be in the form of an affidavit made in the presence of two witnesses and attested before any official authorized by law to administer oaths. These will be attached to the application for the marriage license. [Source: ^]

Should one fail to procure the parental consent, the marriage is deemed voidable or annullable, that a petition for the annulment of the marriage may be filed by the parents, guardian or person having substitute parental authority over you, in that order. Though after attaining the age of twenty-one, and the couple has lived together as husband and wife, the marriage is ratified. ^

In case both or either one of the couple is between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five, he or she is obliged to ask parents or guardian for the parental advice. This is also written in form, and accompanied by a sworn statement by the couple that such advice was sought. These are attached to the application for the marriage license. Should the parents or guardian refuse to give any advice, this fact shall be stated in the sworn statement. If parents refuse to give advice or if the advice is unfavorable, then the marriage license will not be issued until after three months following the completion of the publication of the application for the marriage license.^

In addition to the parental consent or advice, if both or either one of the couple is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, he or she need to procure a certificate issued by a priest, imam or minister authorized to solemnize marriages or a duly accredited marriage counselor to certify that he or she have undergone marriage counseling. Failure to provide such shall also suspend the issuance of the marriage license for three months from the completion of the publication of the marriage license application. ^

Marriage License and Legal Requirements for Marriage in the Philippines

The Philippines marriage license is valid in any part of the Philippines for one hundred twenty days from the date of issue, and shall be deemed automatically canceled at the expiration of the said period if the couple has not made use of it. The expiry date shall be stamped in bold characters on the face of every license issued. The marriage license is issued by the local registrar of the city or municipality of either parties. [Source: ^]

Each party should file a separate application which shall specify the following: 1) Full name of the contracting party; 2) Place of birth; 3) Age and date of birth; 4) Civil status; 5) If previously married, how, when, and where the previous marriage was dissolved or annulled; 6) Present residence and citizenship; 7) Degree of relationship of the contracting parties; 8) Full name, residence and citizenship of the father; 9) Full name, residence and citizenship of the mother; 10) Full name, residence and citizenship of the guardian or person having charge, in case the contracting party has neither father nor mother and is under the age of twenty-one.^

Couples have to remember to bring along your original birth or baptismal certificates. Certified true copies are likewise accepted. In case the birth or baptismal certificates are missing, were destroyed, etc., the current residence certificate may be submitted, or an instrument containing the sworn declaration of two witnesses of lawful age, setting forth the full name, residence and citizenship of such contracting party and of his or her parents, if known, and the place and date of birth of such party. The nearest of kin are preferred as witnesses, or persons of good reputation in the province or the locality. However, the birth and baptismal certificates are no longer required if the parents of the couple appear before the local registrar and swear to the correctness of the legal age of the said parties and if the registrar is convinced that the couple is of marrying age. ^

In case either of the parties has been previously married, a copy of the death certificate of the deceased spouse should be submitted, or the judicial decree of absolute divorce, of annulment, or declaration of nullity of previous marriage. In case the death certificate cannot be secured, an affidavit stating the party's actual status and the name and death of deceased spouse should be executed. ^

If both or either parties are between the ages of eighteen to twenty-one, written consent should be secured from their father, mother, surviving parent or guardian, or persons having legal charge of them. If both or either parties are between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-five, the couple is still obliged to ask their parents or guardian for advice. If they do not obtain such advice or if the parents are against the union, the marriage license should not be issued until after three months following the publication of the application for the license. The couple should also submit a sworn statement that advice was sought, and the written advice should also be attached to the application for license. If the parents refuse to give advice, this should also be noted. ^

In the cases where parental consent or parental advice is needed, the parties should attach a certificate issued by a priest, imam or minister authorized to solemnize marriage or a marriage counselor duly accredited by the proper government agency to certify that the couple have undergone marriage counseling. Failure to attach said certificates of marriage counseling shall suspend the issuance of the marriage license for a period of three months from the completion of the publication of the application. ^

The local civil registrar shall then prepare a notice containing the full names and residences of the applicants for a marriage license and other data given in the applications. The notice shall be posted for ten consecutive days on a bulletin board in a conspicuous place within the registrar's building and accessible to the general public. This notice shall request all persons having knowledge of any impediment to the marriage to advise the local civil registrar thereof. The marriage license shall be issued after the completion of the period of publication. ^

In case of any impediment known to the local civil registrar or brought to his attention, these shall be duly noted. The registrar could still issue the license unless ordered otherwise by the court. The local civil registrar shall require the payment of the fees prescribed by law or regulations before the issuance of the marriage license. No other sum shall be collected in the nature of a fee or tax of any kind for the issuance of said license. It shall, however, be issued free of charge to indigent parties who have no visible means of income or whose income is insufficient for their subsistence. ^

Filipino Wedding Seminars, Banns, Encounters and Canonical Interviews

If the date set is for a church wedding, the prospective bride and groom will attend three Saturdays of a compulsory seminar where they are quizzed on the ten commandments, the memorization of generic prayers and listening to the essential counseling on the responsibilities of marriage. And for the sacramental union to be achieved in a state of grace, there is a compulsory confession the day before the wedding.[Source: Salmagundi,]

Who has not watched a movie whose wedding scene was interrupted by a dramatic "Itigil ang kasal! (Halt the wedding!)"? Wedding or marriage banns prevent such scenes on your big day. Banns are announcements in the church where the couple are getting married and in your respective parishes to inform the public of your forthcoming union of hearts. In the Philippines, it is usually read in the church thrice and posted for a month. This gives the people in your parish (who are most likely your townmates) the opportunity to speak out should they know of a valid reason why the wedding should not push through. [Source: Gladys Pinky D. Tolete, ***]

As a couple arrange your wedding banns, they will be asked to schedule a canonical or pre-nuptial interview, or dulog, as it is known in the vernacular. This initial interview is required by the church to find out any possible impediments to your forthcoming wedding, to ensure the freedom of both parties, and to determine your knowledge of the duties, responsibilities and doctrines of a Catholic marriage. It is advisable to set this meeting with the parish priest at least three months before the wedding. On this meeting, the couple will be asked to fill out a pre-marital questionnaire which will help the priest determine your readiness and freedom to marry. The priest will also discuss the whole marriage preparation process so now is the time to ask those little details that may be lurking in your minds. the couple will be asked to share about your relationship to determine strengths and weaknesses and to spot future issues. The priest will also discuss what are the future duties and responsibilities of husband and wife. After the interview, if the couple are deemed fit to marry and there are no impediments to such, the wedding date and wedding banns may be finalized with the parish. ***

After the initial or canonical interview, the couple could also ask your parish about the schedules of the pre-cana seminar. So named after Christ's presence at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee, it seeks to prepare engaged couples for the married life. A team of married couples from the parish leads these programs. The seminar centers around the sacrament of marriage, dealing with your partner, communication, family life and planning, intimacy and spirituality. It is advised that the couple schedule this seminar early on because some parishes have limited slots and get booked immediately. ***

Engagement encounters are no different from the church seminars, except that they take longer than a day and are usually held in retreat houses. Some parishes do require engagement encounters together with the church interview when they see the need for it. These week-end programs are for couples who are seriously considering getting married. A team of married couples, together with a priest, share what it's like to be married. This gives the couple a preview of the married life, this time coming from real-life couples. Afterwards, the couple may answer a questionnaire or are left to privately communicate with each other. After all, one of the main thrusts of engagement encounters is to provide a venue for couples to assess their selves and their relationship free from concerns such as work, studies, etc. Engagement encounters help the couple plan the whole marriage itself and not only the wedding aspect. Other topics include family planning, decision-making, communicating and other vital concerns of being married. In the Philippines, two of the well-known programs are the Discovery Weekend and Catholic Engaged Encounter Philippines. Due to many requests, it is better to contact them early and make reservations.[Source: ^]

Before Wedding Events in the Philippines (Likod-Likod)

On the first day of a traditional three-day wedding, the bride and groom, borne on separate processions, were brought to the house of the babaylan (priest), who joined their hands over a plate of raw rice and blessed them. The party then repaired to the arbor for feasting well until the following day.

The dowry having been agreed upon by the two sets of parents—and made good by the suitor to the girl’s parents — -it was time to set the date. Three days before the day, relatives of the bride and the groom assembled at the house where it was to be celebrated, there to set up a palapala, or trellis, for the reception. A pre-party, one might say, for merrymaking was the order in the three-day clan preparation. [Source: Alvina, C. & Sta. Maria, F. 1987. Essays on Philippine Culture, ^]

Special festivities are held in connection with the eve of the wedding (likod-likod) with the main purpose of stimulating friendship and good will between the families of the two contracting parties. Another objective is to commemorate the last day before the couple share a wedded life together. The parents of both bride and groom address each other in the familiar terms, "Pare" (for the fathers) and "Mare" (for the mothers). Aside from bearing all expenses for the feast, the boy’s kinsmen take care of entertaining and serving the guests, especially the bride’s circle of relatives and close friends. There is a plentiful supply of food and drinks, music and merry-making. Great precaution is taken that nothing unpleasant happens, that all visitors are pleased and well fed, and that the provisions are not exhausted. An unruffled, bounteous feast presages luck and happiness for the nuptial day. [Source: ^]

A woman expert is oftentimes asked to take charge of dishing out the rice and viands on big plates (bandejados). She utters certain invocations as she scoops out the rice with a coconut ladle (luwag), to make sure that the food will be sufficient for the feast. A shortage would put the groom’s family to shame and predict failure for the marriage celebrations. The betrothed pair takes part in the festivities, which may last till the late hours of the night, but the parents see to it that they retire early. ^

Bilik and Tulungan in a Filipino Rural Wedding

Three days before the wedding, the groom's family puts together a group of men and proceeds to the bride's house for the construction of the bilik – a temporary structure that consists of the welcome-entrance arch and a covered area –measuring from 100 to 150 sq meters– that will be divided into two: a smaller one that will serve as the kitchen for the slaughtering and cleaning of livestock, cooking and other essential food preparations; and a bigger area, to serve as the dining and dance area. [Source: Salmagundi, ]

The arch is made of bamboo, from about 50 pieces of posts hewn down the day before in an effort that requires about 10 people. Like much of the preparations, the budget and family stations determine the simplicity or ornateness of the bilik, from a minimum of trimmings and ribbons to one colorfully decorated with flowers and ornaments, and painted with a chosen color motif. The dance-and-dining and kitchen space are covered by tarps tied to bamboo posts and strung to the ground. The construction will take up most of the day in a continuing buzz of jovial excitement and bayanihan.

Two days before the wedding, the households of both the bride's and groom's become abuzz with the cooking of suman and kalamay. The rural tradition is for both delicacies to be prepared: suman, with the coconut milk, and kalamay with the sticky rice. The activity starts at seven in the morning and finishes around 10 in the evening, by then, the arms tired from the mashing and stirring, tongues tired from talking. Usually, two stirrers are used, and rather than scrapping them off clean, they are wrapped and tied facing each other to be opened in four days. [Source: Salmagundi,]

Mamamaysan in a Filipino Rural Wedding

Finally, the mamaysan day arrives. At the break of dawn, the groom's family is abuzz, preparing the sundry of things that will be hauled to the bride's place. Vehicles are borrowed and hired –jeeps, jeepneys, tricycles–to haul the kith-kin-and-caboodle, literally. Kin, friends, neighbors, wedding attire, bridal gown, pots, pans, plates, utensils, are crammed inside and atop the vehicles. A single pig will fit in a tricycle. A few pigs, for the occasion of a grander wedding, will need an elf or jeepney. The side of the vehicles is decorated with fresh fronds of coconut leaves. The jeepney is loaded with passengers to the rooftop, and although illegal, the coconut fronds identify it as a wedding vehicle, and local police usually just turn their heads away. [Source: Salmagundi, ]

Arriving at the bride's house, welcoming starts with the "tasting of the kalamay." Each side tastes the others' kalamay' concoction, with the usual exchange of praise as to whose tastes better. Meanwhile, the bridal gown is taken to a designated room in the house; no fitting is allowed for fear that the wedding might not happen.

The kitchen has started to buzz alive. Preparations slow to start, pick up into full swing. On one end of the bilik, a pig is being slaughtered. The blood is collected for the preparation of the "dinuguan" dish which will be the traditional dinner entree. The rest of the pig will be divided and amounts allotted for the preparation of other foods for the traditional wedding feast: embotido (finely chopped meat), apritada (catsup based) and menudo (pineapple based). And if the pig meat supply will afford, the additional dishes of ginulayan (milk), pochero (banana) , sinantomas (bone-based) and rebosado (fried pigskin in batter).

Hapunan (dinner) is served with the dinuguan as main dish. Afterwards, the tables are cleared and pushed aside, transforming the dining area into a dance floor. An emcee, microphone in hand, starts the proceedings of the "sabitan." As the bride and groom start dancing, the emcee calls out the parents and guests and one by one they come up to hang money in denominations of 20 to 1000 pesos, pinning it on the backs of the bride and groom, from the shoulders and downwards. When it is close to reaching the ground, the connected money bills are removed and rolled up and a new pining is started. About 50 percent of the guests pin some money. For the emcee, it is great fun time announcing the amount of the "sabit" with off-color all-in-fun commentaries of how little or how generous the pinned amount was. When everyone has been tapped, the "sabit" money is put on a white handkerchief and given to the groom's mother for safe-keeping. The guests then join in the dancing. and eventually, when the feet tire of dancing, the karaoke is turned on, and singing and drinking continue into the early morning hours.

Filipino Wedding Day Festivities and Ceremonies

The wedding is set on a day when the moon is waxing. Barrio elders say that marriages held when the moon is waning meet with no luck and prosperity, a belief that seems to be widespread among other Visayan peoples. The wedding day is a time of great rejoicing. Its celebration is not an individual concern but affects the whole barrio. Even before the banns are proclaimed in the parish church, the highlights of conversation are focused on it. Excitement and anticipation pervade the atmosphere. The kinsmen of the groom pool all their resources to prepare for the momentous event - to provide the bridal gown, decorate the church and the bride’s house, attend to the many guests that come, make ready for the marriage feast, and arrange all other pertinent details. [Source: ^]

The last days that a maiden spends with her family are trying. Her parents, clinging to the last fragile hope of keeping their girl, try to discourage her by stressing the hardships of the married state, the defects of her husband-to-be, the unavoidable in-law problems, etc. Some fathers put on an air of indifference or pretend to be sick. Mothers become too strict and fault-finding, or hysterically give away to tears. The bride shuns company and attendance at public affairs to avoid comments and staring glances. ^

Often in the rural Philippine, usually without sleep for most, the bride and groom start preparing for the wedding at four in the morning. Sometimes, to ensure prosperity, the bride and groom will insert a coin inside a sock. The wedding retinue partakes of a small breakfast before proceeding to the church. A jeepney is the wedding vehicle, replete with the bouquet of flowers on the front bumper. The bride seats in front, the family and bridesmaids in the back. [Source: Salmagundi, ]

The actual ceremony is a generic one. In the sacramental details, the rural wedding differs little from the middle class and burgis. For pomp and pageantry, the coffers of the rich and middle class afford bourgeoisie options: a carpeted walk to the altar, flower decorations on the both sides of the middle aisle, or special cushioned seats up front for the godparents. In the other details, the rural wedding is also replete with flower girls, ring bearers, bridesmaids, and the essential godparents. An effort is made to get godparents of some social status – a local politician would establish a connection and possible future benefit. And the more the better, often three to four pairs of godparents, with the possible goal of the accumulated largesse equivalent – if not more– to that spent for the wedding.

Filipino Wedding Ceremony

In pre-colonial days, a wedding ceremony lasted three days. On the first day, the bride and groom were brought to the house of a priest or babaylan, who joined their hands over a plate of raw rice and blessed the couple. On the third day, the priest pricked the chests of both bride and groom and drew a little blood. Joining their hands, they declared their love for each other three times. The priest then fed them cooked rice from the same plate and gave them a drink of some of their blood mixed with water. Binding their hands and necks with a cord, he declared them married. The majority of Filipino weddings are now Catholic weddings, but some native traditions remain. [Source: Shu Shu Costa,]

Most have special “sponsors” who act as witnesses to the marriage. The principal sponsors could be godparents, counselors, a favorite uncle and aunt, even a parent. Secondary sponsors handle special parts of the ceremony, such as the candle, cord and veil ceremonies. Candle sponsors light two candles, which the bride and groom use to light a single candle to symbolize the joining of the two families and to invoke the light of Christ in their married life. Veil sponsors place a white veil over the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulders, a symbol of two people clothed as one. Cord sponsors drape the yugal (a decorative silk cord) in a figure-eight shape–to symbolize everlasting fidelity–over the shoulders of the bride and groom. The groom gives the bride 13 coins or arrhae, blessed by the priest, as a sign of his dedication to his wife’s well-being and the welfare of their future children. [Ibid]

Filipino Wedding Clothes

The white wedding dress has become popular in the last hundred years or so with America’s influence in the Philippines. Before that, brides wore their best dress, in a festive color or even stylish black, to celebrate a wedding. Orange blossom bouquets and adornments were a must during the turn of the last century. For men, the barong tagalog is the traditional Filipino formal wear. It is a cool, almost transparent, embroidered shirt, made from silky pina or jusi, two native ecru fabrics. It is worn untucked, over black pants, with a white t-shirt underneath. These days, a Filipino American groom might wear the conventional black tux, but Filipino male wedding guests will usually show up in their finest barongs. [Source: Shu Shu Costa,]

The terno—a traditional, long, one-piece Philippine dress with butterfly sleeves— is worn by women at formal occasions—and sometimes at weddings. The terno should be distinguished from such other Filipino dresses as the informal balintawak and the patadyong. Lacking the terno’s svelte sophistication, these rural costumes are worn mainly by barefoot dancers of the tinikling and by carabao-riding maidens in the landscapes of Amorsolo. The terno, on the other hand, goes with the stately grace of the rigodon de honor, flores de mayo processions, coronation nights and the Malacañang Palace. [Source: ^]

Jett Pe Benito of wrote: “No Filipina bride-to-be could ever resist the elegance of piña, the graceful butterfly sleeves, and the pride brought about by Filipiniana wedding gowns that such style remains to be a traditional and classic favorite.Rajo Laurel and Joel Bautista, two of the country's top designers, share their thoughts on Filipiniana-themed wedding gowns and what makes them a hit with altar-bound Filipinas. Both designers consider our national history to be the crux or root of the origin of the Filipiniana-themed gowns. [Source: Jett Pe Benito, ***]

“Laurel believes that these gowns are symbolic of our diverse culture, which stemmed from the various influences we've had in our history. Bautista, on the other hand, believes that the origin of Filipiniana-themed gowns is not unlike that of the barong tagalog, meaning that both began in the Spanish era and both have evolved since then. The Filipiniana wedding gown is not limited to the puffy sleeves and piña cloth. Laurel says that "with geographical culture playing a major part in the themes of our Filipino gowns, (the styles) are derived from the three major islands of our country. These are evident in the different inspirations like colonial, Muslim and ethnic." Current Filipiniana style could be classified into two, adds Laurel. "One would be a gown with an ethnic motif as detail via the interpretation of ikat and other tribal weaves. The other one would be the traditional indigenous material cut into modern silhouettes."***

“For Bautista, the most familiar versions would be the three-piece ensemble (blouse, skirt and pañuelo) with the optional alampay and patadyong, and the terno popularized by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos. However, most brides prefer the three-piece style over the "Imelda terno" because the former is more appealing in style. The three-piece style is also less restricting in terms of height and built. "An "Imelda terno" meanwhile, would look best on a bride who is well-shaped and of considerable height," Bautista says. Both each have their favored materials to work with and their own design considerations. ***

“Laurel likes to mix fabrics to reflect the diversity of the Filipino culture while Bautista favors silk organzas, organdy, jusi, piña silk and pure silk. He has also tried using abaca. Both agree that the Filipiniana style of wedding gowns is here to stay. "I would like to think that the Filipino's pride in getting married is reflective in the designs of her gowns, although this has to be in tune with modern aesthetics," Laurel says. Meanwhile, Bautista offers, "I think it is the gown's national identity that the bride intends to personify within herself that makes a Filipiniana-themed gown a virtuous choice for her wedding." ***

A great favorite among the Filipino brides is ecru, the color of piña and jusi, two delicate native fabrics of gossamer silkiness particularly becoming to the Filipina complexion. In the past century, brides wore daintily embroidered baro (blouse) atop a Maria Clara skirt with interlarded panels of richly colored silk. The white wedding dress only came to the Philippines with the Americans, gaining popularity in the Twenties, along with bridal showers, Lohengrin wedding march, wedding cakes and June weddings. [Source: Alvina, C. & Sta. Maria, F. 1987. Essays on Philippine Culture, ^]

Duties of Main Participants in a Filipino Church Wedding

Groomsman: A member of your barkada is taking the plunge, the rest of you are his groomsmen. Consider this one an honor, and with this honor comes great responsibility. 1) Before the Wedding: A) Help the best man plan the bachelor party, the last night your bud parties with you as a single man. Just make sure the wedding will still push through after this party. B) Attend pre-wedding parties like the despedida de soltera and rehearsal dinner. C) Gather the rest of your barkada and think up a perfect gift for the groom. 2) On the Wedding Day: A) Help usher guests to their seats. B) Assist the best man in his duties. 3) At the Reception: A) Assist in welcoming and ushering in guests. B) Participate in the garter throw. C) Dance with the bridesmaids or other female guests. (asking them to dance could be your hardest task so far.) [Source: ^]

Bridesmaid: Being a bridesmaid means more than wearing a silky gown and having flowers on your hair. Bridesmaids are chosen for being the closest and most trustworthy female relatives and girlfriends of the bride. They support the maid of honor and help with the numerous pre-wedding tasks. On the wedding day, they likewise double as usherettes. To be a good bridesmaid: 1) Before the Wedding: A) Offer your help. It would be nicer if you are specific when you volunteer rather than asking, "What can I do?" B) Help organize the bridal shower or bachelorette party. C) Attend the dress rehearsal (if any). D) Help maintain lists such as the gift registry and the RSVP. 2) On the Wedding Day: A) Assist the maid or matron of honor in her duties. B) Help usher guests and guide them to their assigned seats (if there is such an arrangement). C) Make sure wedding accessories such as the veil, pillows, flowers are in order. 3) At the Reception: A) Assist in welcoming and ushering in guests. B) Go around and invite the guests sign the signature frame or the guest book. C) When it’s time for the bouquet toss, please get out there and at least try to catch the bouquet. Do not let the bride throw the bouquet over and over again. D) Distribute the give-aways. ^

Best Man: 1) Before the Wedding: A) Provide moral support to the groom. B) Accompany the groom in picking out his barong or tuxedo. C) Organize the bachelor’s party. D) Emcee the rehearsal dinner or party, if any. E) Lead the groomsmen. 2) On the Wedding Day: A) Accompany the groom to breakfast or lunch. Make sure he eats something (grooms may faint at the ceremony, too!). B) Help in ushering in the guests. C) Accompany the groom to the church. D) Keep track of the wedding rings. E) Bring a pen and an extra handkerchief. F) Escort the maid of honor down the aisle (your easiest duty so far!). G) Assist in the signing of the marriage contract. 3) At the Reception: A) Help welcome and assist the guests to their seats. B) Toast the newlyweds. Two words for the speech: short and sweet. C) Help the groom pack his things for the honeymoon. D) If you’re sober enough, you could drive the newlyweds to the airport. ^

Maid of Honor: The maid or matron of honor (if married) serves as the bride's right-hand (wo)man, her adviser, helper, even slave, if you must. Here are some of the maid of honor's duties: 1) Before the wedding: A) Be the leader of the female entourage members — the bridesmaids and flower girls. B) Help the bride in drafting the guest list and addressing the invitations. C) Accompany the bride in sourcing out the wedding suppliers. D) Inform the guests where the couple has set up their bridal registry. E) Host or organize the bridal shower. F) Help organize the rehearsal dinner or despedida de soltera. Make sure that the entourage members are in full attendance. 2) During the wedding day: A) Make sure that the bridesmaids and flower girls are properly made up and have their bouquets. B) Assist the bride as she prepares in her room. C) Make sure that no wedding accessories are left behind before leaving the house or hotel. D) Fix the bride’s veil, gown, bouquet and train before and during the ceremony. E) Carry the bride’s purse, if any. F) Assist in the signing of the marriage contract. 3) At the reception: A) Help welcome and assist the guests to their seats. B) Collect any gift envelopes. C) Make sure the bride eats something at the reception. D) Make a speech honoring the couple. (optional) E) Help the bride change for the honeymoon and pack her bag. F) All throughout the preparations, always be the shoulder to cry on, to present a patient ear and assure the bride with warm hugs and soothing words. ^

Filipino Wedding Traditions: Candles, Coins, Veil and Cord

Filipino Weddings reflect the strong traditions of family (& extended family) and symbolism. Filipino wedding ceremonies typically involve many people, and the wedding rituals typically "speak" to the couple personally. Traditional Filipino Catholic wedding customs include candles, coins, a veil and cord.

1) Many couples incorporate the unity candle ceremony in the wedding ceremony. The couple, each holding a candle, lights a third slightly larger candle. Some have their parents help in lighting the candle. Couples can blow out the individual flames or all three candles may remain lit throughout the rest of the ceremony. The candles symbolize the Light of Christ, the same light they received at Baptism and now receive again to lead them in their new life as a couple. They also symbolize the wedding ceremony's essence: two people becoming one while retaining their own identities. They are visible symbols of couples' commitments to each other. The lighting of the candles usually takes place at the beginning of the ceremony. One person from each side of the family lights a candle symbolizing God’s presence at the union. Sometimes the couple will then take those lit candles and light a third candle together, signifying that their families are united through them. The third candle is called a "unity candle" and has its origins in the U.S. [Source:, December 2, 2011,, ]

2) Sometime after the exchange of vows, the groom presents coins to his bride after they have been blessed by the priest. The coins (also known as: Arras [ah-rahs] or Arrhae [ar-rah-heh]) have traditionally symbolized the prosperity that would be shared by the new couple, and the groom's promise to provide for the welfare of the new family. The custom of the groom giving wedding coins comes from Spain. The groom gives the bride 13 coins to symbolize their mutual prosperity. Traditionally, it was like a dowry and thus it also symbolizes his promise to support her and their family. However, today's couples embrace life & face the world together in a more mutually supportive way than ever before. So, the Wedding Coins have come to symbolize the couple's commitment to mutually contributing to their relationship, their children, and their community.

The arras (Spanish for "earnest money") custom is said to come from a Roman custom of breaking gold or silver into equal halves by both parties as a pledge of marriage. The thirteen coins, said to represent Christ and his 12 apostles, symbolize the groom's unquestionable trust and confidence. By giving arras to his bride, he places all his material wealth into her care. Acceptance by the bride means taking that trust unconditionally with total dedication. The arras usually come in ornate boxes or gift trays and represents the bride's dowry as well as good wishes for prosperity. Oftentimes, these coins become part of the family heirloom.

3) The Veil (white) has come to be a symbol of purity. Its original meaning was the symbol of the presence of the Lord, as the cloud was a symbol of His presence. It is placed over the shoulders of the couple to symbolize their union and being "clothed as one" in unity. After the couple has exchanged rings, they kneel side by side. Then two chosen people will take one end of the bride’s veil and drape it over the groom’s shoulders. It signifies that they are dressed for the world as one.

4) The Cord is a symbol of the couple's bond; that indeed they are no longer two but one in their new life as a couple. A white decorative silk cord called a yugal is placed over the couple’s shoulders in the sign of infinity (a sideways figure-eight). It symbolizes everlasting fidelity and signifies that they walk the world as equals. The cord ceremony featuring the yugal is inherited from the Spanish. The yugal or nuptial tie is usually a silken cord or a strand of flowers or coins which the cord sponsors entwine loosely around the necks of the bride and the groom. The yugal is shaped like the number eight, which is said to symbolize the infinity of the bond of marriage.

Candles, Coins, Veil and Cord in the Wedding Ceremony

Sequence of symbols in the Wedding Ceremony: 1) Lighting of the candles usually takes place before the readings. The candles may also be lit at the beginning of the ceremony. 2) The sharing/exchange of the Wedding Coins takes place immediately after the exchange of rings. The Wedding Coins are blessed, and then the celebrant gives it to the couple to share or pass from one to the other. 3) The Couple's Veil is placed over the shoulders of the couple as they kneel side-by-side. This is usually done immediately after the exchange of arrhae and before. 4) The placing of the Cord follows after the veil is in place. the bride and groom want to be part of the Offertory, either as gift bearers or as those receiving the gifts from the bearers and handing them to the celebrant, then the veil and cord are placed after that. Once the veil and cord are in place, they are to remain kneeling until after Communion. IF the bride and groom would like to participate in the Sign of Peace the veil and cord can be removed after the nuptial blessing.

Originally, there was an understanding of husband as "bread winner" and wife as "home maker" so the coins were given and received not in a spirit of reciprocity but in a give/take relationship. Nowadays the coins are a reminder of good stewardship for all couples; that they will mutually support each other, their children and the world around them.

In order for the congregation to understand the meaning of the actions and the various symbols: a. the celebrant may preface the action before calling on the secondary sponsors. b. have another person read a commentary explaining the actions c. the couple may print a short explanation in their program. [Source:]

Rose Ceremonies at a Filipino Wedding

Though more prevalent in Western weddings, some Filipino couples incorporate rose ceremonies into their wedding as an added special touch. In the past, and even now, the rose has always been considered a symbol of love. A single rose always meant only one thing - it meant "I love you." The rose ceremonies could take place after couple has been pronounced as husband and wife. For the first rose ceremony, the bride and groom offers each other a single, preferably, red rosebud. This symbolizes the giving and receiving of their love for each other throughout their entire married life. The second rose ceremony has the bride and groom offering roses to their mothers. The roses serve as tokens of gratitude for their mothers' unfailing and unconditional love. [Source: ^]

For the rose ceremony, the following script could be recited by your priest: "Your gift to each other for your wedding today has been your wedding rings - which shall always be an outward demonstration of your vows of love and respect; and a public showing of your commitment to each other. You now have what remains the most honorable title which may exist between a man and a woman - the title of "husband" and "wife." For your first gift as husband and wife, that gift will be a single rose. In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love and a single rose always meant only one thing - it meant the words "I love you." So it is appropriate that for your first gift - as husband and wife - that gift would be a single rose. ^

“Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife. In some ways it seems like you have not done anything at all. Just a moment ago you were holding one small rose - and now you are holding one small rose. In some ways, a marriage ceremony is like this. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different than yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life - one I hope you always remember - the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage. ^

“ Bride and Groom, I would ask that where ever you make your home in the future - whether it be a large and elegant home - or a small and graceful one - that you both pick one very special location for roses; so that on each anniversary of this truly wonderful occasion you both may take a rose to that spot both as a recommitment to your marriage - and a recommitment that THIS will be a marriage based upon love. ^

“In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words. It is easiest to hurt who we most love. It is easiest to be most hurt by who we most love. It might be difficult some time to words to say "I am sorry" or "I forgive you"; "I need you" or "I am hurting". If this should happen, if you simply can not find these words, leave a rose at that spot which both of you have selected - for that rose than says what matters most of all and should overpower all other things and all other words. Bride and Groom, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, it is that it was love that brought you here today, it is only love which can make it a glorious union, and it is by love which your marriage shall endure." ^

Papal Blessing, Honoring the Virgin Mary, and Who Can Preside Over a Wedding

Nowadays, many brides practice another special and touching spiritual ceremony in their weddings, which is honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are three ways to honor the Blessed Mother who was once a bride herself. One is by incorporating the piece, Ave Maria, in the ceremony rites. Another is by reciting the prayers for the Virgin Mary such as the Hail Holy Queen. Kindly consult with your officiating priest where you could have this in the ceremony. Lastly, most brides offer a bouquet of flowers, sometimes her bridal bouquet or a part of it, at the statue of the Virgin Mary. This is done before she and her husband leaves the altar. [Source: ^]

Did you know that you could ask for the Pope's blessing for your wedding? If you are both Catholic and are getting married in a Catholic church, you are eligible to receive the papal blessing or Benediction Papalis. Though it may take some time and is not for free (the fee goes to charity), the papal blessing provides a wonderful and spiritual touch for your marriage. It comes from the Vatican and is a piece of parchment paper hand-painted with calligraphy, flowers, and different sketches of the Vatican. It also has the reigning Pope's photograph, official raised seal, signature and the blessing. To get one, those who have received the papal blessing say you may write to the Vatican and enclose your wedding invitation. You may also ask for help from your parish priest or Diocese office. ^

Muslim marriages are conducted by a judge or an imam (a religious cleric), Christian marriages by a priest or pastor. Civil marriages are recognized and accepted in both the Christian and Muslim communities when conducted by judges and commercial chiefs, such as pilots and ship captains. The 1987 Family Code of the Philippines' Chapter 1, Article 7 recognizes the authority of the following to solemnize marriages: 2) Any incumbent member of the judiciary is authorized to solemnize marriages within his court's jurisdiction (i.e. a Supreme Court justice could solemnize marriages anywhere in the Philippines while a Municipal Trial Court judge of Dagupan Cit y cannot solemnize a marriage in Quezon City); 3) Any priest, rabbi, imam, or minister of any church or religious sect duly authorized by his church or religious sect. He should be registered with the civil registrar general and act within the limits of the written authority granted him by his church or religious sect. Likewise, at least one of the contracting parties should belong to the solemnizing officer's church or religious sect;

4) Any ship captain or airplane chief only in the case of marriages in articulo mortis between passengers or crew members, not only while the ship is at sea or the plane is in flight, but also during stopovers at ports of call; 5) Any military commander of a unit to which a chaplain is assigned. The commander could solemnize marriages in the absence of the chaplain or during military operation. Likewise, in the case of marriages in articulo mortis between persons within the zone of military operation, whether members of the armed forces or civilians; 5) Any consul-general, consul or vice-consul in the case of marriages between Filipino citizens abroad. The issuance of the marriage license and the duties of the local civil registrar and of the solemnizing officer with regard to the celebration of marriage shall be performed by the said consular official.

Filipino Wedding Sponsors (Godparents)

The Principal Sponsors (aka Ninang and Ninong): These are women and men whom the bride and groom respect & admire. They are, as in the early days of the Church, sponsors of the couple attesting to their readiness for marriage and freedom to marry. These are often aunts and uncles or close friends of the family. In the Philippines, they are the official witnesses of the state and they sign the marriage license. Worldwide, their participation is symbolic of the wisdom & support they shall offer the new couple. The number of sponsors can vary from a single couple to many couples. The Principal sponsors are part of the bridal procession. At the nuptial blessing, they may also be invited to come up with the celebrant and to extend their right hands to join in the prayer of blessing. In doing so, they are fulfilling their roles as sponsors. [Source:]

The Secondary Sponsors: These are women and men whom the couple chooses to involve in their ceremony because of their affinity or friendship with them. They are typically relatives or close friends. There are four sets of Secondary Sponsors: 1) The Coin Sponsors - those who will present the Unity Coins. Often, they will also provide the Unity Coins. Alternately, the coins may be brought to the altar by a coin bearer who is a child (relative or friend). 2) The Veil Sponsors - those who will place a white veil over the shoulders of the couple. 3) The Cord Sponsors - those who will place a knotted cord over the heads of the couple, to lay on their shoulders. 4) The Candle Sponsors - those who will light the candles on the altar. Some couples choose to have their mothers or fathers light the candles in this ritual.

The typical Filipino wedding is characterized by the long line-up of ninongs and ninangs or the godparents. Their names appear in the invitation under the heading "principal sponsors." According to Rita Neri's The Essential Wedding Workbook for the Filipina, "ninongs and ninangs are senior men and women, preferably married, who are either family members or close friends of the couple's parents." Ninongs and ninangs are expected to serve as the couple's second parents or counselors especially when the newlyweds' parents are no longer there to guide them. [ ^]

According to the Bride's Maids and Co.'s Veil, in the Philippines, the social status of the wedding is dictated by its line-up of principal sponsors. Hence, it is not surprising that prominent personalities are often asked to be a ninong or ninang. Neri adds that it is rare for a Filipino to refuse to be a godparent not only because of the honor that goes with it but because it is considered unlucky to do so. The law requires at least two wedding sponsors or witnesses. Veil suggests two to four pairs of principal sponsors for small weddings while larger weddings can do with a maximum of six to eight pairs. After a couple has finalized the line-up, they are advised to personally invite their soon-to-be godparents, a phone call or letter just won't do. Principal sponsors are also expected to grace the despedida de soltera. ^

Filipino Wedding Ceremony Places and Procession

Facing the altar, the bride stays at the left side of the church while the groom is on the right. This comes from a belief that in the olden times, the bride has to stay at the groom's left side to enable him to draw his sword on his right side and thwart jealous suitors trying to steal his beloved. The female entourage members are seated behind the bride or in the left side of the church as the male entourage members stay at the right side. The bride's family and friends ideally are seated at the left side of the church with the groom's kin on the right side. [ ^]

Processional: In the Philippines, the entourage traditionally enter in this order: 1) Best Man; 2) Groom with his parents; 3) Principal Sponsors; 4) Secondary Sponsors; 5) Ring Bearer; 6) Coin Bearer; 7) Bible Bearer; 8) Flower Girls; 9) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen; 10 ) Maid/Matron of Honor; 11) Bride with her parents (The bride stays at the left of her father.) This order could vary, the groom and his parents may not march and wait instead at the altar. Nowadays, the parents of the bride wait for her halfway down the aisle as she makes her solo entrance up to the center and then they march altogether. ^

Recessional: After the ceremony, the procession is reversed: 1) Bride and groom (The bride is at the groom's right side.); 2) Flower girls, ring bearer, coin bearer and bible bearer (optional); 3) Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man; 4) Bridesmaids and groomsmen.^

Blessing of the Wedding Coins

As the couple exchange the coins: One says: “(name of spouse), take these coins as a pledge of our commitment to share God's gifts.” The other says: “(name of spouse), I accept and treasure your gift. Let us together always share God's blessings. (name of Coin Bearer) will present the pillow with the coins. [Source: ^^]

A celebrant says: “Lord, bless these coins. Grant (names of couple) not only material possessions, but abundant spiritual strength, which these coins symbolize, so that they use them to bless others and to attain eternal life. Hold the coins in your hands as a sign that your blessings will no longer be held separately, but together. And may you always show that whatever gift you may have in this life is not ultimately yours but the Lords.” ^^

One of the couple lets the coins fall into the hands of the other: One says: “ (name of spouse), accept these coins as a pledge of my total dedication and constant concern for your welfare. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” ^^

An alternative is for someone to say: “(name of Coin Bearer) will present the pillow with the coins. A celebrant says: “May God bless these coins / arras as a sign of mutual support and responsibility.” One of the couple says: “I give you these coins as a pledge of my dedication to you, the care of our home, and the welfare of our children.” The other says: “I accept them and in the same way pledge my dedication to you, the care of our home, and the welfare of our children.” ^^

Wedding Ceremony Prayers for Couple's Veil and Cord

Prayer for Couple's Veil & Cord No. 1: A reader or celebrant reads as Veil Sponsors place veil over couple's shoulders: “(couple's names), at Baptism you were clothed with the white garments symbolizing the new life of purity and joy in the Lord, to which the Risen Christ has called you. We clothe you again with this precocious garment as you enter into the new phase of your life with God. Wear it unstained and let the joy of the spirit shine forth to you and your children whom the Lord's loving design will bring into your life. [Source: ^^]

A reader or celebrant reads as Cord Sponsors place cord over couple's shoulders: “This cord symbolizes the love of God which brings your hearts and souls together. May your love grow stronger and bind you closer together through years, from here to eternity. We ask this from the Father, through Christ our Lord.” ALL: “Amen.” ^^

Prayer for Couple's Veil & Cord No. 2: A reader or celebrant reads as Veil Sponsors place veil over couple's shoulders: :Let this veil be a symbol of the faithful love you have for each other.” A reader or celebrant reads as Cord Sponsors place cord over couple's shoulders: “May this cord remind you to face your life together courageously and to be mutual in support of each other in carrying out your duties and responsibilities as a couple.” ALL: “Amen.” ^^

Prayer for Couple's Veil & Cord No. 3: A reader, celebrant reads as Veil Sponsors place veil over couple's shoulders: “The Veil covers this couple today reminding them and us that Christ covers us in his love. Their new home will be a place where God dwells because this couple chooses to be under the mantel of his love.” A reader or celebrant reads as Cord Sponsors place cord over couple's shoulders: “The Cord, looped and crossed in the middle is wrapped around the bride and groom to symbolize the Blessed Trinity; The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are one and the same. The cord symbolizes this same union and the infinite nature of marriage.” ALL: “Amen.” ^^

Prayer for Couple's Veil & Cord No. 4: The reader or celebrant reads as Veil Sponsors place veil over couple's shoulders: “Lord, with this veil, which represents this couple's union and mutual surrender to each other, may you always protect (names of couple) from any harm and strengthen them to provide continuous moral and spiritual support to each other and their children. May they remain loyal helpmates to each other as they carry life’s burden with joy.” The reader or celebrant reads as Cord Sponsors place cord over couple's shoulders): “Lord, with this cord, may the bond of love and friendship uniting (names of couple) grow stronger over the years. May they remain united to you all their lives knowing, loving and serving in each other and the community.” ALL: “Amen.” ^^

Prayer for Couple's Veil & Cord No. 5: The reader or celebrant reads as Veil Sponsors place veil over couple's shoulders): “(names of couple), (names of Veil Sponsors) will now place a veil over you. Let this be a symbol of the faithful love you have for each other. Through the passing of the years, let the veil remind you that you belong to each other and to no one else, and that the love you have for each other becomes more beautiful in self-surrender that is total and pure.” The reader or celebrant reads as Cord Sponsors place cord over couple's shoulders): “(names of couple), (names of Veil Sponsors) will lay the cord on you to remind you of your responsibility to hold each other with the tenderness that Christ has for His Church. Keep the bond of your love steadfast so that you can support one another throughout your lives.” ^^

Wedding Ceremony Prayers for Candles

Prayer for candle lighting No. 1: “(couple's names), will now light center Unity Candle. You will take the flame from the candles which your (names of candle lighters) have lighted. You will see that this center candle is larger than the other two because it is the new family that has been formed today as you repeated your vows and will be a blending of all the love, traditions and experiences you have both shared with your individual families. It is also larger because the middle candle represents Christ, who has brought you both together for this moment and to remind you that He is with you always as a partner in your marriage, to guard and to guide you in all that you do. [Source: ^^]

Prayer for candle lighting No. 2: A reader or celebrant reads: “The ceremonies (refers to candle, coins, veil & cord) you are about to witness are uniquely and traditionally a part of the Filipino wedding.” Candle lighters come forward to light the candles. A reader or celebrant continues: “(couple's names), (names of candle lighters) now light the candles for you. The candles represent the light from God that you will need to guide you throughout the rest of your married life. The candles also express the silent promise that the couple will continue to be light and warmth to each other for life.” ^^

The couple comes forward to light the center Unity Candle. A reader or celebrant continues: “Take the flame from the candles which your mothers have lit. This center candle is a sign that a new family has been formed today blending all the love, traditions and experiences you have both shared with your individual families. It also represents Christ, who has brought you both together for this moment and to remind you that He is with you always as a partner in your marriage, to guard and guide you in all that you do.” ^^

Prayer for candle lighting No. 3: “A reader or celebrant reads reads as the candle lighters light the candles: “(couple's names), (names of candle lighters) now light the candles that represent the light from God.” A reader or celebrant continues as the couple lights the center candle: As you light the Christ candle let it remind you that Christ is with you always as a partner in your marriage, to guard and guide you in all that you do.” ^^

Prayer for candle lighting No. 4: A reader or celebrant reads: “Today, as candles are lit at the altar, remember the light of Christ that burns in all Christian hearts and our responsibility to share that light with the world, especially in this celebration of Eucharist. ^^

Prayer for candle lighting No. 5: The reader or celebrant reads as the candle lighters light the candles): “Today, as candles are lit at the altar, remember the light of Christ that burns in all Christian hearts and our responsibility to share that light with the world, especially in this celebration of Eucharist.” The reader or celebrant continues to read as couple lights the unity candle): “Take the flame from the candles which your mothers have lit. This center candle is a sign that a new family has been formed today blending all the love, traditions and experiences you have both shared with your individual families. It also represents Christ, who has brought you both together for this moment and to remind you that He is with you always as a partner in your marriage, to guard and guide you in all that you do.” ^^

Filipino Wedding Customs

Great effort is made to keep anything unpleasant or unlucky from happening. The Tagalog regard it as unlucky for the bride and groom to try on their wedding clothes and ring before the wedding ceremony and believe that brothers and sisters should not marry in the same year and older children should get married in sequence before the younger ones. After the wedding ceremony the couple races to the door of the church. Whoever arrives first will be the dominant spouse. Te couples will sometimes step on each other’s toes on the wedding day. Whoever does so first is regarded as the boss. Throwing rice and coins are done to ensure prosperity.

It's considered customary for a bride to carry a handkerchief during her wedding to wipe the tears she must shed before the groom kisses her. Why? It's an old sentiment implying tears shed before a wedding means will not be shed thereafter. If either the man or the woman has an older brother or sister who is still single, it is customary to give a gift of clothing wear to the unmarried sibling, a gesture that is believed to prevent spinsterhood or bachelorhood. [^, Salmagundi,]

Before the Philippines was colonized, the wedding ceremony would have the gifts of relatives and friends catalogued—a practice that is slightly reminiscent of our modern gift registry today. Each relative and friend attending the marriage brought some present. This was carefully and accurately logged. For if Pedro gave two kaings of fruit, the same was gifted him or to the next wedding in his house. The gift monies received were used in the pamamahay, or furnishing of the new couple's house. Rich relatives sometimes gave the couple jewelry as a mark of affection. This belonged to the bride and no one else. [Source: ^]

Gladys Pinky D. Tolete wrote: “Although there are those who believe that rain on a wedding mean good luck and blessings from above, most Filipino couples wish for a rain-free wedding. To ensure such, chanting "Rain, rain, go away…" would do no good; it is time to offer eggs to the sisters of the Sta. Clara convent along Marcos Highway. Sta. Clara is the patron saint of good weather because "claro" in Spanish also means "unclouded," thus pertaining to fair weather (a cloudless sky). Eggs are offered because "claro" is also believed to refer to the albumen or egg white whose clear consistency is symbolic of a "clear" sky. Do not stop at eggs though, for fruits and other goodies could also be offered to the sisters of Sta. Clara to help you pray for the perfect weather on your big day. [Source: Gladys Pinky D. Tolete,]

Ancient Filipino Wedding Customs

Gladys Pinky D. Tolete wrote: “In the early times, Tagalog brides and grooms came from the same social class. Before the wedding, the groom was obliged to offer gifts to his future in-laws this is locally known as the bigaycaya. What comprises the bigaycaya underwent negotiations. The bigaycaya was presented days before the wedding, witnessed by relatives, friends and members of the community. If the in-laws asked for more than what was usual, they might have been required to give the married couple gifts like slaves, gold trinkets, or a piece of land. This is called the pasanor. In addition to the bigaycaya, the groom also paid the bride's mother for taking care of his beloved - this was the pasuso. However, Tagalog weddings then were not permanent. Should the bride wish to remarry, she could return the bigaycaya to the groom. The husband, on the other hand, could forfeit the bigaycaya if he was not satisfied with the marriage, but if they had children, the bigaycaya was passed on to their offspring. [Source: Gladys Pinky D. Tolete, ^]

In the time of Urduja—a 15th century warrior princess—it was customary among early Filipinos to marry within their class. Maharlikas married women belonging to the nobility; timaguas (freemen) married the daughters of their peers; and slaves married other slaves. There were no sanctions against classes intermarrying; nevertheless, such cases were rare. When a man intends to ask a girl's hand in marriage, an emissary from the man's family thrust a spear onto the staircase of a girl's house. It was an announcement theatrically clear that she soon would be spoken for. Once set on marrying, the man will call on the village chief and the elders to announce his intention and to name his intended. The chief will then send some of his timaguas to negotiate the marriage. [Source: Alvina, C. & Sta. Maria, F. 1987. Essays on Philippine Culture, == ]

Again, going back to the time of Urduja, beside the bigay-kaya, the man was required to make other special compensatory gifts. Such as: a certain sum to the girl's mother (for sleepless nights in rearing her daughter from birth), another sum to her father (who usually asked for a dowry equal to what he had given to the girl's mother), and still another to her wet-nurse (for having fed the bride as an infant with milk from her own breast.) To top it all, if his family could not put up the negotiated dowry, he had to undergo a period of servitude (paninilbihan) in the girl's household until he had earned enough for the wedding. It was also called subok, a test of his love and fortitude. ==

Rice and Philippine Weddings

Gladys Pinky D. Tolete wrote: “Perhaps one of the things that distinguishes Filipinos from other cultures is our immense love for rice. No full meal is ever deemed complete without rice, and rice has been attributed to the rapid formation and development of pre-colonial communities. The country’s landscape is dotted with wide plains of rice paddies. Rice also figures prominently in our wedding practices. During pre-colonial times, handfuls of rice is exchanged between the Filipino couple to solemnize their marriage. Social status was said to be measured by the quantity of rice a family had stored. [Source: Gladys Pinky D. Tolete ^]

Nowadays, as the newly-weds step out of the church after the ceremony, they are greeted by showers of rice grains from their well-wishers. This practice traces back to the Middle Ages where the Christians adopted the Jewish practice of throwing handfuls of wheat over a newly-wed couple to insure fertility. Wheat was soon after replaced with rice because the latter was plentiful and less expensive. ^

Aside from "rice showers," there is also another custom involving this so-called grain of life. While preparing for the wedding, the bride-to-be assembles little bags of rice which she saves for herself and her future family. It is believed that these bags represent the future wealth of the family thus the bags are well preserved. Rice has always played an important symbolic role in the Filipino culture – it symbolizes life, generosity, wealth, and in this case, love and a fruitful union. ^

Filipino Wedding Receptions

The main reception has traditionally been held at the bride’s house or a restaurant, with a smaller party held later at the groom’s parent’s house. In some places the bride’s mother gives the newlyweds candles as they approach the bride’s house, and then the couple is showered with rice and money as doves are released from cages to signify peace and lasting love between the bride and groom..

In rural Cebu, the newlyweds start the festivities by sharing food from the same plate. The godmother and godfather present gifts and the couple are the last to leave the celebration. Food served at the banquet includes rice, pork, beef, goat’s meat dishes, tuba, mallorca and alcoholic drinks made from sugar cane juice. At the party there is singing and dancing with the Spanish “kurats” and the “balitaw” being the most popular dances.

In many places the bride and groom dance as guests pin banknotes to their clothes until they are covered with cash. In other places money is collected on plate and showered over the couple while they stand on a mat, which is rolled up afterward to collect the money. When the newlyweds retire to their room for their wedding night they find an envelop of money from the bridegroom’s parents on their bed.

There is often a competition between the groom’s family and the bride’s family as to who can collect the most money with the bride collecting money from the groom’s family and the groom collecting money from the bride’s family.

Urban Filipino Wedding Reception

Gladys Pinky D. Tolete wrote: The buffet is ideal for small receptions (100-150 persons). It is a spread of different kinds of food with each course having 5-7 choices, which usually include cold items, salad, soup, breads and rolls, a carving station, hot items and dessert. Individual stations/kiosks may also serve a particular kind of food like pasta and salad. Buffet is typical for the festive type of reception. There are misconceptions about the buffet as being magulo [disorganized], though there are ways to make them organized. Ninety percent of Bayview's receptions have been buffets because the couples have their guests' satisfaction in mind and simply because Filipinos love to eat! [Source: Gladys Pinky D. Tolete, January 2013, ^]

2) Sit-down. The sit-down style is ideal for larger receptions, from 250 persons and above. This is a plated menu with 3 to 5 courses. It usually starts with an appetizer or salad, soup, the main course and dessert. To some hotels, the sit-down style is for the "formal reception," which also means no kids allowed. ^

Cocktails are usually done when there is a lull between the Mass and the reception time. Cocktails are served while the guests are waiting for the couple at the reception. It is usually a prologue to the sit-down dinner. Cocktails consist of drinks and pica-pica or finger food. It is ideal for more casual receptions with 80-100 guests, or for ceremonies in time slots which are too late for lunch or too early for dinner. ^

The inevitable question – how much will all the sumptuous food cost? A typical Filipino wedding has 150-200 guests. To make budgeting easier, couples should consider what type of food they want to serve and if they want a buffet or sit-down menu. They should also consider the likes and dislikes of their guests. It does not necessarily follow that if the couple likes a certain menu, all the guests would like them as well. They should also think of guests who have other preferences like a vegetarian menu. Hotels, restaurants and caterers have different packages of varying rates and menus. There will always be a package suited to your budget and tastes. ^

Rural Filipino Wedding party

After the church ceremony in rural areas of the Philippines, the party proceeds back to the bilik. On arrival, the newlyweds feed each other a spoonful or piece of sweet pastry, the traditional gesture to ensure a "sweet" relationship. The bride and groom and the rest of the wedding party, godparents, friends and relatives partake of a feast at the banquet table. After this, the "sabog" or presentation of gifts start. The newlyweds proceed to a small table and sit across each other, with 2 secretaries on either side. The announcer starts calling the guests, starting with the godparents. As the gifts are given, the secretaries loudly announce "what" and "how much." The announcer, in "good fun" chastises the gift-giver if the amount is deemed too little, and urges loudly, to add to their gift. Sometimes, the announcement is made with a lot of fanfare and "oohs and aahs" when a gift is unusually generous: a large amount of money, a cow or carabao, sometimes, a carabao and cart, complete with deeds of sale.The gift-givers do not leave empty handed; usually, the godparents s are given a cellophane-wrapped basket of native delicacies and snacks–leche flan, embotido, suman and kalamay; the rest, usually just suman and kalamay. [Source: Salmagundi, ]

After all the gift-givers have been called up, the bridge and groom goes around with a bottle of local brandy, seeking out those who have not yet given gifts, offering them a jiggerful of alcohol, which is quaffed down and returned with a 20 or 100 peso bill. When the commerce of the celebration is finally completed, the groom's party starts loading up the gear to bring back. The newlyweds present themselves to bride's parents and elders for a final blessing. Invariably, there are tearful goodbyes and the essential homilies of patience, understanding, love.

Finally, the caravan of vehicles heads back to the groom's place – with the newlyweds, and the sleepless and exhausted gang of kin and friends still faced with the chore of cleaning up a jeepney-load of dirty and greasy kitchenware. And that eventually accomplished, there is always a little life and energy left for feasting on leftovers and rounds of libation while recounting the stories of the past few days.

The rural tradition of "balot sa kumot" is still performed in some provinces. On arrival at the groom's parents' place, the newlyweds sit in the middle of a large white bedsheet or "kumot," the corners are tied over the couple who are kept bundled and clumped inside the sheet for four to five minutes, swaying about as the sheet is pulled from either side. Sometimes, water is sprinkled on the outside, perhaps hoping for the love to grow.

Filipino Wedding Foods and Long Tables

On the food at a Manila hotel wedding, Gladys Pinky D. Tolete wrote: “The typical reception menu consists of appetizers, main dishes, dessert and drinks. Hotels, restaurants and caterers have ready-made menus to make your life easier. However, if you are having your reception at home, just remember that those are the major "food groups" and you may serve food according to you and your guests' preferences. The Banquet Sales Manager of Bayview Park Hotel Manila says that in their experience, Filipinos still prefer Filipino dishes. However, she says that some choose international cuisine to impress their guests because "balikbayans prefer pure Filipino dishes, and a buffet at that!".[Source:Gladys Pinky D. Tolete, January 2013, ^]

Couples usually get two main courses, one fish and one meat or chicken to keep their guests fully satisfied. Aside from the food, take note that couples also give special attention to floral arrangements. Brides are quite particular with how the color motif is interpreted in the decorations and the amount of flowers in the venue. Another trend is that more couples now prefer the buffet-style reception. Lauriats are for Chinese weddings which usually have 300-1,000 guests. This is a 10-course meal wherein the food is served on a lazy susan. The waiter usually portions the food to each guest before leaving the food on the table for the guests to help themselves later on. ^

A traditional Filipino wedding feast can be quite elaborate. One feast celebrated at the turn of the 20th century involved these foods: First was served cold vermicelli soup. The soup was followed by meats of unlimited quantity–stewed goat, chicken minced with garlic, boiled ham, stuffed capon, roast pork and several kinds of fish. There were no salads, but plenty of relishes, including red peppers, olives, green mango pickles and crystallized fruits. For dessert, there were meringues, baked custard flan, coconut macaroons and sweetened seeds of the nipa plant. [Source: Shu Shu Costa,]

Wedding banquets were always clarion calls for gathering kith and kin. No table was ever long enough to seat all. Hence the conjoined table boards to make one long table. The term Long Table" has come to denote a nuptial feast. Where were the "long tables" spread in Grandmother's time? Home was the traditional venue. Those cavernous elegant mga bahay na bato (stone houses) could contain the largest of social gatherings. There were armies of servants to attend the guests. To this day, in town and barrio, there's a leafy trellis beside the bahay kubo shading the open-air long table. In the city, however, receptions at hotels and restaurants in time became fashionable. From twilight of the reign of Spain to morning of American Empire days en grande receptions were invariably at La Palma de Mallorca, a famous Spanish hostelry in Intramurous until well into the Twenties. [Source: ^]

Filipino Dowry System

In rural areas it is still common for the bride’s family to pay a large dowry to the groom. In return the groom is expected to provide well for their daughter and preferably have a university degree. Sometimes the bride’s or groom’s family give the newlyweds land, a home or money to spend during their marriage. The groom’s family usually pays for the wedding, the wedding clothes and gifts. They usually prepare food and entertain relatives before the wedding. Sometimes the groom’s family will give the bride’ family a valuable gift, even build them a home.

The Tagalog tradition of courtship and marriage is a class all its own, especially with respect to dowry-giving. It has no similarity in either the Christian Filipino or traditional practices. Its counterpart cannot be encountered in the Ilocano, Pangasinese, Pampango, Bicolano, Ilongo, Waray-waray, Cebuano or any other practices and customs of the majority ethnic groups. Neither can a version of it be found in the customs of the Igorots, Tinguians or Itnegs, Apayao(w)s or Isnegs, Aetas, Gadangs, Ibanags, Dumagats, Manobos, Bagobos, Badjao(w)s, Maranao(w)s, Maguindanao(w)s, Tasadays, Tirurays, Tagabilis, Tagbanwas, Bataks, Tausogs and other minority groups. But perhaps the nearest things to it is the Bagobo system which requires the bride-to-be's father to make a return present equivalent to one-half of whatever is agreed upon as dowry. This quaint dowry-giving practice is called Tumbasan, or "the act of making equal." It boasts of the following mechanics: in an offer by the parents of the bride to give one hectare of riceland as dowry, it calls upon the bridegroom's parents to even or equal the gesture by also giving one hectare of riceland. In a majority of cases, that would generally settle the marriage. [Source: ^]

But sometimes vanity gets the better of them and the whole process transforms into a bidding game. The bride's parents may up the offer by another hectare or more of the riceland, in which case it devolves upon the bridegroom's parents to offer an equivalent number of hectare and/or hectares of riceland, and so on and so forth. Where the bidding stops, that's the amount of dowry. For instance the bridegroom's parents could only go so far as five hectares, then that's where the ritual ends: five hectares of riceland from either side or a total of ten hectares. It somehow provides the newly-weds something to start their life. Let it however, be observed that this is a practice that by its very nature is common only among the affluent. ^

After the Wedding Celebration

Four days after the wedding, in rural areas of the Philippines, newlyweds return to the bride's parents' place, accompanied by a small group of men tasked with the chore of dismantling the bilik. Before leaving the man's house, the stirrers are unwrapped and kalamay is scrapped off the tips and small portions served to both the husband and wife. Arriving at her parents' place, the same unwrapping of the stirrers and sampling of the kalamay is done. The men leave when the bilik is dismantled, the newlyweds usually6 stay behind to spend the night. [Source: Salmagundi, ]

In the spirit of the pre-colonial wedding tradition, after the bride has been delivered to her husband in their new house, at this point began a conventionalized ritual probably as contrived as a Kabuki sequence. On seeing her husband waiting for her at the top of the stairs, the bride feigned hesitation, refusing to take another step, until he swore to make her mistress of her new house. After taking a few more steps she again hesitated, until he swore that all his worldly goods were hers. Halfway up she again affected coyness, stopping for the third time, until he vowed to give her happiness and many children. Thus assured, she dropped both her veil and the pose of shyness. Taking his proferred hand, she finally joined the waiting guests in the house at yet another merry feast. [Source: ^]

On the third day of a traditional three-day wedding, again before the babaylan, bride and groom performed something of a blood compact. With a thorn the priest pricked their breasts and drew a little blood. He joined their hands and bade them declare, thrice, that they loved each other. He then fed them cooked rice from the same plate and made them drink, from the same singalong (a wooden cup), of the blood drawn from both, mixed with a little water. Binding their hands and necks together with a cord, he declared, "This man is now one with this woman. Let all of you be witnesses to this union." Like the exchange of rings in a Christian ceremony, the couple then gave each other a jewel. This ritual, called talingbuhol, signalled the completion of the wedding and start of yet another round of wedding feasts anywhere from one to two weeks, or for as long as the groom's largesse held out. On the last day of feasting, the bride was ceremoniously bathed by her godmothers and decked again in her wedding finery, solemnly and finally delivered to her husband in their new house. ^

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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